What is the point of cleansing?

Cleansing can be a wonderful way to rid the body of toxins, decrease inflammation, and reboot your overall health. I’ve tried a myriad of cleanses over my lifetime, but it wasn’t until I found Ayurveda that I connected to cleansing in a deeper way.

The wellness culture can tend to be hyper focused on detox and cleansing at all times of the year. Sometimes this obsession can magnetize our neurosis around food and health even more. We focus mainly on what and how much we eat, but not nearly as much on how we eat our foods.

I love Ayurveda because rather than ordaining food lists and restrictions, we put our energy toward consuming whole, nutrient rich, medicinal foods in a spiritually connected and mindful way. These foods connect us deeper to the earth, and what we eat shifts and changes depending on which season of life we’re in and where we are located geographically.

This is the original way humankind was meant to eat: food that was local and in season was all that was even available! An Ayurvedic cleanse combines healthy, seasonal foods with lifestyle and eating shifts that turn on our body’s natural capacities for healing. 

We Are Always Cleansing 

Our bodies are cleansing and detoxing all day, every day. It is a part of our cellular makeup.

By doing an intentional period of cleansing, we are simply supporting the body’s natural ability to rid itself of unnecessary toxins.

Yet, in Ayurvedic cleansing we are not only focusing on detox, but also nourishment. In that sense, we are not solely riding our bodies of toxins but also bringing more nourishing, juicy, sweetness back into our cells to support longevity, happiness, and full-bodied vitality.

If we are in a constant state of detox or cleansing all the time, our body never has a chance to assimilate and absorb the vital nutrients it needs to replenish. In Ayurveda, it is encouraged to cleanse twice a year, and to leave an ample period of time in between cleansing to give your system a chance to replenish and refuel.

What does an Ayurvedic cleanse look like? 

Ayurvedic cleansing is most commonly practiced in the fall and spring, which are the two major season transitions in the year. Cleansing during these periods helps to boost our immune systems when they are most susceptible to colds and allergies.

In the fall time, cleansing focuses on nourishing our mind and body so we can enter winter feeling warm, grounded, and strong. In the spring, cleansing helps to purge and release stagnation so we can step into summer feeling light and energized.

What an Ayurvedic cleanse looks like varies from person to person, based on what you uniquely want and need. There is no one size fits all. However, they all for the most part contain the following components:

  • A period building up to the active cleanse and a period of integration afterwards to gently ease the body into cleanse mode. During this time, we avoid heavy foods such as dairy, meat, sugar, and any refined or processed foods.
  • Daily intake of kitchari, an Ayurvedic superfood porridge made from white basmati rice, split mung dahl beans, seasonal veggies, ghee, and a concoction of healing spices. You can read more about kitchari and learn how to make it here.
  • Daily Oleation. This is the internal and external application of oils to aid in detox. This looks a myriad of ways, including:
    • Taking an increasing amount of ghee on an empty stomach each morning to help turn on fat metabolism and clean toxins from your fat cells.
    • Abhyanga, which is oil self-massage.
    • Nasya, which is the oiling of the nasal passageways.
    • And many other oleation techniques and practices. To know what oleation methods are best suited for you, I recommend meeting with an Ayurvedic practitioner.
  • Daily meditation, breathwork, and gentle yoga to calm and soothe the nervous system
  • Time in nature and away from technology each day.
  • Daily tongue scraping to help clean toxins.
  • The intake of cleansing herbs. The herbs you take are dependent on your mind/body type, yet almost everyone benefits from taking some triphala each evening while cleansing and even beyond the cleanse.

I recommend you consult your doctor to be sure that cleansing is a good fit for you before moving forward with any form of cleansing, especially if you have a complex underlying health condition.

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